Physicians in South Florida have been granted class-action status in a lawsuit charging that Miami-based Neighborhood Health Partnership routinely delayed or downcoded medical claims, a state judge has ruled. Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Henry Harnage's ruling means that about 4,500 doctors can join in a class-action lawsuit against the for-profit company, the largest commercial HMO in Miami-Dade County and the second-biggest in neighboring Broward County with a total of about 200,000 members. Bruce Rubin, a spokesman for the HMO, said the company is "disappointed" in the decision. "We strongly believe this is a case without merit, and it's representative of the types of class actions that continue to unnecessarily drive up the cost of healthcare for every American." The case is similar to a national class-action lawsuit alleging that several large insurers conspired to cut payments to hundreds of thousands of doctors. That lawsuit is scheduled for trial sometime in 2005. - by Michael Romano
Class action against Miami HMO goes forward
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